The author of the Prophet
Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) was born close to the antique forests of cedars of Lebanon, a country under Ottoman's domination. He was brought up in the Christian maronite religion and educated in the Arabic language. Khalil embarked with his mother, brother and two sisters for the United States in 1885 while his father stayed in Lebanon. After three years in Boston, he returned to Lebanon to continue his studies.
After a first passionate and disappointed love, he travelled in Greece, Italy and Spain before living in Paris where he wrote and studied painting. He finished one of his first books, “Spirits Rebellious” that was condemned by the Ottoman's authorities and judged heretical by the maronite hierarchy.
Back to Boston in 1903, he saw his mother, his brother and one of his sisters dying during the same year. It was in this state of deep distress and at the age of barely 20 that he undertook the English version of the “Prophet” previously written in Arabic. Two revisions in Arabic and four in English were necessary before reaching a finished form. He met Mary Haskell who supported young promising orphans and he remained in connection with her all his life.
In 1908, he returned to Paris where he devoted his time to writing and pictorial research, notably under the influence of the Symbolist movement. He worked at the academy of fine arts, saw Claude Debussy, Maurice Maeterlinck, Edmond Rostand and maybe made friend with Auguste Rodin as one of his paintings entitled “Thinker” could suggest.
Back to the United States in 1910, he definitively set himself up in New York. He organized several exhibitions of his paintings in various galleries. He produced an important literary work consisting of essays, poems, stories, aphorisms and one novel on the essential themes in life. Throughout his existence, he sustained his native country in its fight against the foreign domination summed up in the famous quotation “My people are dead”. Gibran was at the head of a feather circle (“Arrabitah”) consisting of the Arabic elite who had migrated to the United States. Published in 1923, “The Prophet” was immediately successful. Khalil Gibran was obviously born to write a small book on the being's values such as love, beauty, the respect for the other or freedom.
He died in New York in 1931. His remains were brought back to Lebanon according to his wishes.